Since 2006, Iran has distinguished the twentieth of Farvardin as its “National Nuclear Technology Day,” an opportunity to unveil (and often exaggerate) advancements in the country’s nuclear program while glorifying the regime’s persistence in the face of Western sanctions. Past holidays have unveiled the mastery of industrial uranium enrichment (2007), a nuclear fuel manufacturing plant near Isfahan (2009), and the development of “third-generation centrifuges” (2010).
Normally, the event’s peak is a festive ceremony attended by the president, but this year’s holiday was different. In light of the “possible risks” stemming from the coronavirus outbreak, the director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, announced that the nuclear festivals scheduled for April 8 would be postponed. The decision was probably influenced by the significant number of high-ranking Iranian officials who have been infected by the disease after attending ceremonies and meetings (most recently Ali Larijani, speaker of the parliament).
In any case, the regime leadership does not appear to be focused on the nuclear program at the moment. President Hassan Rouhani did not issue a statement commemorating the holiday, and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei did not make a single reference to the nuclear program in his March 22 Nowruz speech, an important annual address that traditionally serves as a litmus test for his thoughts on this and other foreign policy issues.
Read the full article at Washington Institute for Near East Policy.